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March 14: The Mishkan

March 14, 2015

SciniaConstruction of the Mishkan, a portable tabernacle or tent to house “God’s presence,” was completed in the Sinai wilderness on this date in 1312 BCE, according to Biblical reckoning (as figured by the Lubavitcher khasidim). The design, according to the Torah, had been issued in lengthy detail to Moses on Mount Sinai, and the construction went on for seventy-four days. The command to erect it was postponed for three more months, however, at which time a week-long “training period” began, with the Mishkan set up each morning and taken down each evening while Moses initiated his brother Aaron and his four sons into the priesthood. The Torah describes the Mishkan as having an inner shrine, the “Holy of Holies,” which housed the ark containing the tablets of the law (hence the ark containing the Torah scrolls in synagogues), and an outer chamber with a golden lampstand and other furnishings. Many Biblical scholars consider this to be a description of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, however, which centuries after the conquest of Canaan would be constructed to supersede the Mishkan as the “dwelling place” of God.

“Speak to the Israelites and have them bring Me an offering. Take My offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give.” —Exodus 25:1